Moving is nuts. Here are some resources to reign in that craziness:
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1. Have a moving survival basket for packing and unpacking that includes:
- Packing tape in dispenser, extra roll of packing tape
- Pens, pencils, markers
- Notepad for tracking what item went in what box, phone numbers, miscellaneous notes, and a list of places to eat near your new house.
- Colored duct tape or labels.
- Screwdrivers, hammer, ziploc bags
- Spackling paste or super convenient spackle pen (tub and pen are both less than $5) to patch up nail holes as you take stuff down (please don't use random other stuff like toothpaste. It stays wet longer, shrinks more, and just causes problems in general).
- Hand soap & toilet paper
- Large trash bags
- Granola bars/popcorn/snacks and bottled water
2. Buy all the materials you need way ahead of time
- Everything for your moving survival basket above
- Boxes in different sizes-- especially office file boxes with the little handle cutouts. They are lifesavers for heavy items like books or plates and for random items that still need packed on moving day.
- Packing paper, packing tape, labels/markers...
- If you can, rent reusable plastic moving boxes. Way sturdier than cardboard and eliminate the need for as much packing paper and packing tape. Like this one from U-haul:
3. Start packing ASAP. If you have time to start packing 2 months in advance, start!
4. Label and track boxes. Use the notepad in your moving survival basket to write down everything that goes into each box, and number every box with the marker from your basket to correspond to your list. This will also ensure you don't lose an entire box without noticing. If all the boxes are unloaded in your new place and number 17 is unaccounted for, you know to start looking for it immediately.
Also, use your colorful labels or tape on the top and around two opposite corners, wrapped so you can see the color no matter which side of the box is facing you, like in this picture (click on the picture to follow the link).
4. Get rid of as much as possible. Be ruthless. Especially if something is an unfinished project-- perhaps it's broken and you planned to fix it or it's an errand like drycleanidry that's been sitting awhile-- either complete the task or get rid of it. Don't take unfinished projects into your fresh, new home. Don't take clutter into your new, fresh home. The more you get rid of, the fewer boxes you'll be loading and unloading, packing and unpacking. You'll hit that point in the move where you ask yourself why and how you have SO. MUCH. STUFF. (Only you'll use more frustrated and colorful language by that point). And then you'll either be glad you downsized or regret not downsizing more. Or both. For me, it's always both.
5. Keep track of small parts. If you disassemble anything to move, put small parts like bolts into a ziploc bag, label it with a marker and tape it to one of the larger pieces.
6. Keep track of cord configurations. Speaking of disassembling, before you unplug electronics, like your TV and Xbox and cable box for example, take a picture of the backs so you know where all the cords were plugged in.
7. Ask loved ones to help in advance. And supply them with bottled water, copious thank-yous, and pizza when they show up.
8. Pack a "First night" box. Have a box or suitcase for your first few days that has several outfits, PJs, sheets/pillows/blankets for the bed, toilet paper, paper towels, shower curtain, shampoo/bodywash, hand towel, bath towel, anything you'd need for an overnight trip (toiletries, charging cords, pet food and bowls, etc.), a source of entertainment like a laptop or book, and your moving survival basket. For more ideas. Put this box/suitcase in the front seat of your car before any other box gets loaded so it doesn't get lost in the chaos.
10. Protect your bed. Put two fitted sheets on your mattress-- one on the top side and one on the bottom side-- to protect it while you move it. The sheets may get dirty and stained, so use ones you don't mind staining or hit up the thrift store for a few.
11. Get creative. Use soft things like clothes, towels, blankets, and pillows to pad and fill in boxes that are heavy or have breakable items. For example, stick a washcloth between plates, if you have a box that's already heaving and still has empty space before it'll be full, stuff in a blanket or a pillow to fill the space. The more items you use to pad other items, the fewer boxes your stuff will take up. This will mean that many boxes will contain items for multiple different rooms, so keep that in mind as you label and pack them, and be very detailed in your list of what went in each box so you know that the winter coat you can't find is actually in a kitchen box with drinking glasses. And again, number the boxes to correlate to your notepad-list so you know exactly which kitchen box you need to open up.
12. When you move into your new house, if you bought it, rekey the locks. Rekeying is different than changing the locks because it only changes the pins inside the lock so they fit a new key and the old key won't work anymore. Rekeying is cheaper than changing the locks. If renting you'd need permission if you want to do this.
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Links with a lot more tips and tricks and oh-my-gosh-I-never-would-have-thought-of-that reminders:
Before you move: